My periodization process involves the creation of a series of documents which will provide the foundation for the team’s operation while optimizing performance throughout the season. In my next 4 blogs, I will discuss our main 4 documents in the order they should be designed. Essentially, we are taking a broad view of the year’s schedule then we slowly dive deeper into more specifics of the various periods, weeks and days. 

The first step is to create a team calendar for the season which will be based upon the competitive game schedule provided by the league. Remember, in this model, competitive games lay the foundation for everything we plan. The aim of this document is to create a “soft blueprint” for the season. “Soft” simply means that this calendar should always be reviewed throughout the season and modified as needed. That is, because long term planning is nearly impossible in our world as we live in a non-linear highly complex environment where many variables will influence our decision making every day, week, month or black. Below is a specific order of variables I always consider while building the calendar:


  • Home & Away games are plugged in first along with cup games and playoffs.
  • Travel days are plugged in next as they often can be a “steadier” variable based on travel principles which we have defined and discussed with the Head Coach.
  • We will then plug in any miscellaneous conflicts, international windows, mandatory breaks, friendly games…etc . The idea is to obtain the truest visual of the competitive workload our players will need to face throughout the year. 

At this time, let’s pause. We should try to zoom out and observe the calendar. We should have a clear pre-season period, a competitive season period, a playoff period and an off-season period. Now, the competitive season is always going to be big so we should aim at breaking it down into smaller blocks of work. Can we visually pick out any “natural” periods/blocks/mesocycles within the season? We are looking for dense periods of games, periods with less competition, periods of different competition, natural breaks in the schedule…etc. This will allow us to break the competitive season into smaller chunks separated by some de-load weeks. 

  • Days OFF will be inputted next as our principles of recovery will dictate the needs.
    • Within the de-load weeks we identified, we will try to implement double or triple OFF days in a row when possible. 
    • This is to emphasize the “De-load” and help players reset for the next block of work. 


  • Lastly, we will dive into inputting our training days based on a preferred micro-cycle which has been established through our conversations with the Head Coach. 
    • This is inputting the training days based on the rhythm desired.
    • Note that having a secondary and tertiary preferred cycle is key as the days between games will vary throughout the year.
    • This is why, developing a principle based approach with the technical staff about our training days and training emphasis is key in order to identify these 2 or 3 preferred training cycles leading into our games. 
    • We will follow that by adding the weight room sessions and any other miscellaneous items.
      • An example could be: extra work / top ups for players seeing less games minutes. 


This calendar will serve as the staple document for the entire operation and will be shared periodically with the players. An example of a key principle I always use is that once the calendar is shared with the team, we will always try our best, not to change it. If we must change it, we will always try to remove things before we add anything. Therefore, it is super important to think through as many details as possible and plan for the “worst case” while we design the calendar.  In practice, sharing a single week to maybe two weeks ahead with the team is a safe range. It is important to add all valuable information but also make sure not to crowd the calendar too much. The periodization documents that come next will start taking on more details.